Welcome back to my space! I'm listening to birds chirp and turkeys gobble and the sun is shining. There's been a "gang" of what I'm calling teenage deer that gather in the morning and late afternoon, either behind my little cottage or in the front field. It's very serene. Even though you might not be out on a farm like I am, look around you for something delightful and calming -- I'm sure you'll find at least one thing. However, you might quickly respond, "Oh, no, there's nothing like that around me!", which leads me right into this week's Bloom! (See how I did that?!? lol). As a reminder, here's last Monday's Seed:
"Beginner's Mind opens up endless possibilities. Where are you stuck in already 'knowing'?"
Thinking we already know can be comforting -- I get that. It means we're familiar with how things are, but what if that starts to cut us off from bigger and better possibilities? When I first started studying mindfulness, first as a student and then as a teacher, I was introduced to this concept of the Beginner's Mind. One way of looking at it is to pretend you're a young child again and the world is all new. The Zen Buddhists call it Shoshin and it's defined as "having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would." Wikipedia How often do you find yourself cutting someone off because you already "know" something? I remember when I was in fifth grade a group of girls made fun of me. They said that I was always saying, "I know" and they decided to start responding, "So what?!". Being ten years old, that was pretty painful. As a child I felt like I was supposed to know way more than would be realistic -- it was a faulty message I got somewhere. Now, as an adult, I wonder if some of us still have the idea that we're defective if we aren't already informed or if someone might call us out on "not knowing". It definitely shuts the door on learning and expanding.
The other situation that might occur is truly feeling like we totally "know" or "get" a certain topic. This can also play into assumptions we might make. We might believe that we aren't good at something or even that there's nothing else we can discover about a particular issue. When I lead stress management courses and introduce meditation, I often hear participants say, "I can't do that. My mind won't quiet down. I'm not able to be still or calm for very long.", and many more statements like that. It might very well be that someone once told them to just sit with their eyes closed and be quiet for 30 minutes! That could really be a challenge for a LOT of people. This is where I introduce the Beginner's Mind. I'll ask the class to put on hold whatever they've "learned" about quieting their thoughts. I always remind them that they can return to their old "beliefs" after our session, if they like. Then, I ask everyone to pretend they know nothing about meditation and to simply listen and follow some simple exercises I lead them into. I must say, I'm happy to report and even bragging a little that pretty much all the participants come away with a very different perspective on their ability to slow down and discover a little internal peace. The best way to assume a Beginner's Mind is to start by being curious. Wonder what it is that you might not know about a certain subject matter. If someone is conversing about a topic with which you are already familiar, stop and listen, and wait for them to finish. Notice if you picked up something "new". If you've been following me, you know I'm always rooting for expansion over contraction. Let a Beginner's Mind help you to enlarge your world -- this is what I wish for you. Are you feeling stuck and even constricted? The pandemic has brought out many unexpected "side effects". If you'd like to have a chat about dealing with them, send me an email and I'll get back to you right away. We can set up a conversation!
Sparkles and Love,